It was found that 43% of adults aged 50 or older had experienced moderate or high levels of depressive symptoms at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, and that increased over time.
One of the most significant predictors of worsening depressive symptoms was noted by loneliness, along with other pandemic-related stressors like family conflicts.
Women, who were reported to have higher odds of depressive symptoms (when compared to men) reported separation from family, increased time caregiving as well as barriers to caregiving as precipitators.
On the whole, the older adults had twice the risk of developing depressive symptoms during the pandemic when compared to pre-pandemic, especially those with lower income and poorer health.
“These findings suggest the negative mental health impacts of the pandemic persist and may worsen over time and underscores the need for tailored interventions to address pandemic stressors and alleviate their impact on the mental health of older adults,” says Parminder Raina, a professor in the Department of Health Research Methods, Evidence, and Impact and scientific director of the McMaster Institute for Research on Aging, who led the study.